Membership survey

We are delighted to present the results of our first-ever member survey – results which will help shape our future services and activities.

Around two-thirds of RCPsych members rate the College positively, according to our first ever membership survey – which was carried out during the summer.

In total, 3,429 members, out of the 18,859 who were eligible, took part in the survey.

While the average membership survey has a participation rate of 17%, the percentage of members taking part in the RCPsych survey was 18.4%.

Overall, 64% of members rated the organisation positively – and 9% rated the organisation negatively.

Twenty-eight per cent of members rated the organisation neither positively nor negatively.

In response to the survey results, the Officers and SMT have pulled together a draft action plan, which will be discussed at the RCPsych Council on 8 October.

Among the points included in the draft action plan are proposals that the College:

  • better communicate with members on the whole package of services and activities that are delivered by the College
  • deliver a blended model for services and activities (with both online and face-to-face platforms) in the post-lockdown era
  • increase the emphasis on supporting member wellbeing.

In the survey, those rating the organisation positively did so for a range of reasons, including thinking the organisation:

  • provides good learning, training and CPD
  • delivers strong communications
  • has responsive, helpful staff
  • advocates for the psychiatric community
  • has strong leadership, strategy and vision
  • is inclusive and supportive.

Those rating the organisation negatively did so because of:

  • expense and concerns around value for money
  • exams and training 
  • a lack of inclusion
  • the College not focusing on what is important to them.

When rating the organisation, there was a clear difference between people at different stages of their career – and this was a theme that was reflected throughout the whole survey.

While 72% of retired members rated the organisation positively, this figure fell to 59% for core trainees and to 62% for SAS doctors, and for consultants.

The four words members most commonly used to describe the College were:

  • ‘Diverse’ (voted for by 41% of members)
  • ‘Influential’ (voted for by 39% of members)
  • ‘Forward thinking’ (voted for by 35% of members)
  • ‘Inclusive’ (voted for by 35% of members).

When asked about how the College has responded to the pandemic, 62% of members said the College had supported its members well during COVID – with the vast majority of members wanting us to continue to deliver digital activities and services in the post-lockdown era, as well as some that are face-to-face.

Members were asked how satisfied they were with College services and activities overall. The most popular were:

  • the British Journal of Psychiatry – with 78% of members satisfied
  • the BJPsych Bulletin – with 75% of members satisfied
  • the College’s conferences – with 74% of members satisfied
  • College webinars – with 67% of members satisfied
  • College CPD – with 66% of members satisfied
  • CPD Online – with 64% of members satisfied.

Looking to the future, we asked members what they thought the College’s priorities should be over the next five years.

The answers indicated many members are keen for us to take a campaigning approach to our work with:

  • 57% wanting the College to prioritise campaigning for parity of access and funding for mental health services
  • 57% calling on us to prioritise supporting continuing professional development
  • 54% saying the RCPsych should prioritise campaigning for a bigger psychiatric and mental health workforce
  • 45% wanting the College to prioritise campaigning for, and supporting, wellbeing for psychiatrists
  • 44% calling on us to prioritise online provision of courses, events, exams, ceremonies and resources.

In response to the survey, Registrar Dr Trudi Seneviratne said: “The results of the member survey are incredibly instructive.

“There was clear evidence that our members think we are on the right strategic path – and that they think we deliver many good services and activities.”

However, she added:

“There is still a proportion of members who do not feel included and are negative about our current strategic focus.
“It is critical that while our membership is a broad church, we listen to those who are less satisfied and strive to provide a membership offer that meets their needs too.”

The proposed 10-point plan says the College should:

  1. Better communicate with members on the whole package of services and activities that are delivered by the College
  2. Deliver a blended model for services and activities (with both online and face-to-face platforms) in the post-lockdown era
  3. Increase the emphasis on supporting member wellbeing
  4. Better promote ways that members can get involved in the College
  5. Improve promotion of the Psychiatrists’ Support Service – which exists to support psychiatrists who are in difficulty or in need of support
  6. Promote our recent upgrade of CPD Online to our members
  7. Increase support for SAS doctors and affiliates
  8. Enhance support for the Psychiatric Training Committee – which represents trainees
  9. Make research a priority for the College
  10. Ensure regular consultation with members about what they think about the College’s services and activities.


The results of the survey were presented at meetings of the RCPsych Council and Board of Trustees in July 2021 and will also be shared with members via the September edition of RCPsych Insight.

If you would like more information about the membership survey, please contact EA to the Chief Executive Officer Catriona Grant at catriona.grant@rcpsych.ac.uk.

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